Jimmy Smith, a star of the History Channel reality show “Ax-Men,” may not think appearing on TV is work, but the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) thinks it is. L&I has charged him with accepting permanent disability payments while able to work with tools and logs on the show, but he says he’s not guilty.
Smith has been charged with two counts of first-degree theft and 15 counts of second-degree theft for accepting over $50,000 in time-loss and pension benefits payments, as well as medical benefits, while working as a logger in Florida and being paid to appear on the reality show, according to The Olympian.
The L&I agency fraud and compliance blog, appropriately titled “Nailed,” reports that the fraud adjuster at Smith’s arraignment on February 15 observed that he and his son were not afraid to acknowledge Smith’s appearance on the show. They both wore Ax Men t-shirts to court!
And Smith allegedly never reported his media income to L&I. He may have forgotten that anyone could see him doing tasks that “exceed the limitations of his physical abilities as being (on) a ‘sedentary’ work level” by turning on a TV, according to the article. And, unfortunately for Smith, an L&I investigator just happened to be a viewer.
Smith filed workers’ compensation claims after injuries to his back, shoulder, leg, and knee from two work-related accidents in the 1990s. After he was designated as permanently disabled and unable to work, he was placed on a disability pension in 2010—after he had appeared on the show. The show’s website described episodes where he tied ropes around logs and dragged them underwater while wearing scuba gear. He was also shown using tools and heavy equipment.
Despite appearing on the show and receiving the payments from the state, Smith claimed indigence to the Thurston County Superior Court judge and requested court-appointed counsel, according to the Nailed report.
The next episode of this drama will be in March at Smith’s next court date.